The Serpent Lake Trail is a 6.4 mile trail that begins at the end of Forest Road 161 and ends at the East Fork Santa Barabara Trail – Trail #26.
Trail Condition: Good
After crossing a creek on the far side of the parking area, the trail, which follows a defunct two track for the first half-mile, traverses a pretty meadow before continuing into the forest.
About a mile into the hike, the trail crosses a man-made waterway, a bizarre site (even for New Mexico) at such an elevation. The crossing was slightly tricky, but I was able to keep my feet dry.
NOTE: During monsoon season, be mindful of this crossing, especially on the way down.
From here, the trail beings switchbacking and climbing steeply through a series of small meadows until gaining a wide ridge. It climbs gently and eventually crosses into the Pecos Wilderness. Shortly afterwards, the trail reaches the junction for a side trail to Serpent Lake.
After passing the Serpent Lake junction, the trail leaves the ridge and begins switchbacking – more steeply this time – up the face toward the Santa Barbara Divide. The forest quickly shrinks away and the coniferous forest gives way to stunted, scrub willow.
From the trailhead to the junction with the Divide Trail, Trail #19 is consistently easy to follow and had few obstacles.
To read more about the Divide Trail, see my trip report from Jicarita Peak.